Tony and Grammy winner Leslie Odom Jr. will return to Broadway in the first-ever revival of Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. Odom, making his first Broadway bow since his Tony-winning performance in Hamilton, will star in the title role with Kenny Leon at the helm. The revival will begin performances in late summer, as part of the 2023-2024 season, with specific dates and a theatre to be announced.
The work follows a travelling preacher, Purlie, who returns to his Georgia hometown to save the local church and the cotton pickers working on Ol' Cap'n Cotchiepee's plantation. Davis both wrote and starred in the 1961 original Broadway production, appearing alongside his wife, Ruby Dee. Davis and Dee would go on to reprise their performances in a 1963 film adaptation titled Gone Are the Days! A musical adaptation premiered on Broadway in 1970, making Melba Moore a star (and a Tony winner) for her performance as Lutiebelle, singing the Gary Geld-Peter Udell score's most enduring hit, "I Got Love." The upcoming revival of Davis' original play will be its first on the Main Stem.
“Ossie Davis gave the American theatre an American hero in Purlie Judson,” says Odom in a statement. “I have loved this piece and its author, Mr. Davis, for well over half my life. His writing and acting, his integrity, the commitment he and his brilliant wife made to nurturing young talent, and the example of citizenship have meant so much to me! I am thrilled beyond measure to be part of this revival company. Mr. Davis’ pages are full of joy and rhythm, laughter, and hope. We will endeavor to live up to the demands of a challenging text and the legacy of a great American.”
“The Dee-Davis family is so excited that Purlie Victorious will return to Broadway," adds representatives for the Dee and Davis families. "Dad’s genius with words was never more evident than in the voice of Purlie Victorious Judson, who takes a humorous look at a serious subject. His call to justice is timeless and needed now more than ever. Thanks to producers Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, and Leslie Odom, Jr., and to director Kenny Leon for bringing Reverend Purlie to his feet once again. With Leslie Odom, Jr. in the role, Purlie will rise with magnificence.”
Leon has assembled a creative team that includes scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Emilio Sosa, and lighting designer Adam Honoré. Additional casting and creative team members are to be announced.
The revival will be produced by Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Irene Gandy, Jacob Soroken Porter, Kayla Greenspan, and Odom, the latter in his Broadway producing debut.